LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The pick: Pat O’Donnell, punter, Miami
My take: Even though the Bears have favored a more directional approach to the punt game, the Bears went for the strong legged O’Donnell, who averaged 47.1 yards per punt last year with 23 kicks of 50-plus yards.
O’Donnell has the reputation of aggressively covering his punts; he made three tackles and one forced fumble in his lone year at Miami after spending the bulk of his college career at the University of Cincinnati. O’Donnell actually participated in the agility tests at the NFL Combine where he ran a 4.64 40-yard dash and did 23 reps on the bench press at 225-pounds.
Between his time at Miami and Cincinnati, O’Donnell averaged 43.5 yards per punt and his 234 total punts for 10,168 yards rank third among the major college’s active players.
NFL teams don’t usually draft specialists. However, Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis traveled to Miami to conduct a private workout with O’Donnell. DeCamillis came away from the meeting impressed. For the Bears to invest a 6th round draft choice, O’Donnell has to be considered the favorite to land the starting job. The Bears No. 1 punter spot has been open since Adam Podlesh’s release in March.
Uncharted territory: O’Donnell is the first punter drafted by the Bears since Todd Sauerbrun arrived in Chicago in 1995 in the second round. Sauerbrun is remembered for showing up to training camp as a rookie with “HANG TIME” vanity license plates, and for being one of the few punters to roll up the sleeves of his jersey. O’Donnell comes across as being more reserved.
What’s next: The Bears acquired a seventh-round pick (246) from the Denver Broncos to offset the loss of their original 7th rounder that went to Dallas in the Dante Rosario trade. Value can be found at this late stage. The Bears took wide receiver Marquess Wilson with their final choice last year, and the plan is for Wilson to be the team’s No. 3 wide receiver in 2014. Former starting offensive linemen J’Marcus Webb (2010) and Lance Louis (2009) were also plucked in the final round.